By Merve Aydogan
ISTANBUL (AA) – The intergovernmental organization of Turkic-Speaking States is set to virtually hold an informal summit on March 31, which would prepare the group for an upcoming official summit in Istanbul.
Speaking ahead of the informal meeting exclusively for Anadolu Agency, Secretary-General of the Turkic Council Baghdad Amreyev told the meeting was decided to be held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Telling that the Turkic Council aims for a united state of the Turkic world, Amreyev said the presidents of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are to attend the upcoming summit.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban is to attend with observer country status as an official from Turkmenistan to attend as well.
"It's the first summit of Turkic leaders, after the [Azerbaijan's] Karabakh victory. That's why the significance of this meeting is grown in the eyes of the public," Amreyev said while adding that the "meeting is going to be an essential point in our efforts for strengthening the unity of Turkic World."
On the summit's agenda, the Secretary-General of the Council said Kazakhstan's ancient city of Turkistan is to be declared as the spiritual center of the Turkic world.
The city with 2,000 years of history was Kazakh Khanate's capital in the 16th to 18th centuries.
Turkistan, where the well-known Sufi sheik Khoja Akhmet Yassawi lived in the 11th century and was buried there after his death, played an essential role in Central Asia's Islamization.
It was one of the spiritual, political and commercial centers of the historical Silk Way and started to revitalize after 1991 when Kazakhstan gained independence from the Soviet Union.
"We know the significance of this city [Turkistan] for the whole Islamic world," Amreyev said while adding that other cities in the Turkic world "like Istanbul, Samarkand, Bukhara, Shusha, Baku, Almaty" in the future may also receive special status.
– 'Turkic countries to participate in the rehabilitation of Karabakh'
Furthermore, multilateral cooperation, the situation in the region and the world, ways of strengthening cooperation with neighboring countries and international partners of Turkic Council member states are also to be addressed during the informal summit.
As the meeting will be the first gathering of all Turkic Council leaders following Azerbaijan's Karabakh victory, Amreyev said the Council's leaders "will show solidarity efforts towards rehabilitation to reconstruct the liberated territory of Karabakh… Our leaders will exchange views."
He said that "another also important point is the participation of our private sector in rehabilitation works in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan. We are going to convene the business forum in Baku at the end of April to discuss ways of using the potential of our private sector [towards the rebuilding of liberated lands in Karabakh]."
The former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan experienced tense relations for almost three decades after the Armenian military started occupying Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions, in 1991.
When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade-long occupation during the 44-day conflict.
Despite the Nov. 10 deal, the Armenian army several times violated the agreement and martyred several Azerbaijani soldiers and a civilian, as well as wounded several others, according to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.
The Council under the Secretary-General's leadership has prepared "Turkic Council Strategy 2020-2025 and Turkic World Vision-2040," which are to be addressed during the informal gathering on Wednesday, Ameryev said.
With Turkic World Vision- 2040, "which constitutes our roadmap until 2040, we aim for stronger foreign policy coordination, Security cooperation, signing Free Trade Agreements, opening borders in transportation, and strong cooperation between our countries with the language and alphabet in particular," he said.
Describing the 2020-2025 and 2040 documents as roadmaps for the Turkic Council's cooperation towards the future, Ameryev hopes to for the member states' leaders to adopt the documents during the formal Summit at Istanbul in autumn as he said the documents would "shape the future of the Turkic world, especially focuses on strengthening economic ties between our member states, reaching the preferential trade agreement."
Besides establishing an FTA among Turkic Council member states, Ameryev added that "establishing additional mechanisms of our economic cooperation" is also on the agenda.
– 'Over ten countries seek observer status'
Telling that the Turkic investment fund is close to being finalized, he noted that the fund is a "very important financial instrument to support many of our small and medium-sized enterprises."
He further said that the Council is "focusing on developing the existing transportation routes," and said, "that's why we started last year, the realization of a 'green corridor' between our countries through Azerbaijan."
The 'green corridor' is known as an international fast-track transport line for essential goods.
"In general, the Turkic Council does its best to develop multilateral cooperation in the fields of political, economy, science, culture and education, military, law, environment, energy, transportation, investment and finance," he said.
On Turkey's taking term presidency from Azerbaijan by holding the Summit of Turkic Council this year, Ameryev hailed Turkey's position in the Council and told the country has "always played a very important role in strengthening our cooperation in all fields."
"I think that Turkey will continue to play a leading role in consolidating unity and cooperation," he added.
In response to a question on Ukraine's request to receive observer status at the Council, Ameryev told the Council is "considering now requests that came from our international partners. More than ten countries expressed their intention and wish to be to have observer status."
"Now we have only one observer country, which is Hungary. In the future, we'll be having, of course, more observers in our organization. We are currently finalizing the regulations on the topic of observer countries. After it is completed, possibly some time in autumn Summit, we will be able to start to receive observers," he added.